La Monte Young is an American composer living in New York, where he is associated with the group of composers who have derived a good deal of their impetus from the music and personality of John Cage. He was a student at the University of California, where much of his early music was performed in the late 1950s. Since that time he has gone on to fame as a progenitor of the minimalist music movement. His hypnotic electronic and electric keyboard works, ranging from drones to blues and from equal temperament to just intonation, have maintained their fascination for a growing portion of underground music lovers worldwide. By his own admission he is perhaps the most significant composer since Ludwig van Beethoven. For many years now Young has collaborated with the visual artist Marian Zazeela whose remarkable light environments frame his musical ideas perfectly, surrounding the performance area with illusory effects in radiant lavender and red violets that heighten the listener's attention.
42 for Henry Flynt probably has not been written out as a composition. The number in the title changes from performance to performance, depending on the number of repetitions of the sounds. The orchestration is flexible as well. This realization was performed by Peter Winkler on gong and was recorded at the Third Annual Festival of the Avant Garde in San Francisco, 1965. Its hypnotic character made it a favorite of KPFA Radio listeners for several generations. For more information on essayist and artist Henry Flynt, visit www.henryflynt.org.
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February 9, 2010 Subject:
Peter Winkler's performance was utterly magical. For eighteen minutes, I think it was, he had the audience perfectly rapt. The gong, lent for the occasion by the Oakland Symphony, rang out like a gorgeous mezzosoprano, with deep baritone components. It's not easy playing this piece; I've tried it — contenting myself with only 31, and without this magnificent gong. The first time I heard it, Peter Yates gave a thousand licks (he said: I doubt his accuracy) with a wooden spoon to the bottom of a cast-iron frying pan. It was ludicrous. Peter's performance reclaims the serious musical content of LaMonte Young's inspired composition.
November 12, 2004 Subject:
I always loved this recording. 42 strikes of a large gong. That's it. But what a sound. Henry Flynt is (still) an interesting character. See http://www.henryflynt.org/
And isn't 42 the answer to everything?